British government wins bid from satellite operator oneweb to build a new national navigation system


Sina science and technology news on the evening of July 3, Beijing time, according to foreign media reports, the British government and Indian Telecom tycoon Sunil Mittal today won the auction of the bankrupt satellite operator oneweb, making Britain a step closer to restarting its space ambitions after brexit.
A subsidiary of Mittal’s Bharti enterprise and the UK government will each contribute $500 million, the UK government and Mittal said in a statement today that the deal is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The UK government and Mittal will each take 45 per cent of oneweb, while oneweb’s current investors will retain 10 per cent, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The British government and Mittal said the Bati group would provide “business and operational leadership” for oneweb, while the UK government would have a say in any future sale of oneweb and would decide which countries could access oneweb technology on national security grounds.
Oneweb is a satellite Internet company headquartered in London but with a large number of operations in the United States. The company has been building a low earth orbit satellite network to provide Internet services to remote areas outside the city. Currently, oneweb has 74 satellites in orbit. According to the original plan, oneweb will complete the deployment of 648 satellites in 2021, and eventually realize the global coverage of more than 1980 satellites.
But in March, oneweb filed for bankruptcy. Oneweb pointed out at the time that the company was unable to obtain the funds it needed because of the market turmoil caused by the new coronavirus outbreak. Prior to that, oneweb had raised about $3.3 billion from shareholders such as Softbank, Airbus and Qualcomm.
“With oneweb, we will be able to provide broadband connectivity to millions of people around the world, many of whom are using the Internet for the first time,” Alok Sharma, the UK commerce secretary, said in a statement. This deal will provide us with an opportunity to further develop our advanced manufacturing technology. ”
The UK is interested in oneweb because it wants to build a new national navigation system, the report said. Currently, Galileo system is used in Europe to provide positioning, navigation and timing services for global users. However, after brexit, Britain may be excluded from Galileo System in the future.
The UK has also proposed to develop its own independent satellite navigation system, but it may cost 4-5 billion pounds. The acquisition of oneweb may enable the UK to obtain satellite navigation and positioning capabilities at a lower price.
According to previous reports, more than 30 companies, including three Chinese companies, are interested in bidding for oneweb. Among the three Chinese enterprises, one is Geely, which needs low earth orbit satellite network to escort its future automatic driving, future travel and UAV transportation services, the report said. (Yaming)